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Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Calm Before The Storm in London - Olympics Officially Open Tomorrow

Lulu and her granddaughter Kate.

Grandkids playing in Russell Square. Many pictures of the Beatles were taken at this fountain.

Some of the soccer games started yesterday - there was even a "national crisis" when someone put the South Korea flag graphic on big screen monitors when they were introducing the North Korean team. But Friday night at 9 PM local time is the Official Opening Ceremony. (4 PM back home)

For us - son Keith arrived this morning - so all the family is here - and the Olympics started today for us. 

Although Keith was tired from his overnight flight to London - he wanted to go to the Olympic Park to pick up all of the tickets he purchased in advance. So after a little breakfast - Keith and I went to Olympic Park - about 8 miles away. 

Olympic Park occupies an area that was ghetto and industrial slum all in one. The ground was contaminated from centuries of manufacturing. The hope after the Olympics is that it becomes a thriving neighborhood. We had two main choices of how to get there. We could take the train or subway. The red line subway is nearby - so we hopped on the first one we could catch. The cars were pretty empty - and the train took 6 stops before it was at the Stratford Station - headquarters of the Olympic transportation. It took about 20 minutes - add 10 for the walk to the subway - 1/2 hour total. It cost $2.25 pounds - about $3.50. 

At the Olympic Park is a big mall - I mean a big mall - top drawer chains - 3 levels - plenty of places to eat. There are also a few groceries stores there - we shopped for drinks and light snacks - in many cases the prices were lower than downtown. Selection was good. The mall will stay when the Olympics is over.

We lined up at the "will call" queue - that is what they call a line of people over here - a queue. The line was wide open out in the sun - it was 80 - sunny - breezy. The line meandered until we got to the ticket window. Keith gave them his printout - and the lady printed out all the tickets he ordered and transportation passes for every ticket. She checked his passport. When you go online - ticket volume fluctuates like the stock market. Ticket volume changes depending on how well they are selling. The best tickets Keith got were 4 for the Opening Ceremony. Lulu - Harry - Drew - Keith - will all be going together to the opening Ceremony. He also got tickets for basketball - tennis - archery - gymnastics - track/field - cycling - and a few others.

After that - we decided to take the Javelin train back to San Pancras Station. The bullet train station was at the other end of the mall. Quite a walk and Keith was running out of gas because of jet lag and lack of sleep. When we got to the bullet train - we had to buy a ticket home - our subway card would not work. It was 5.7 pounds - about $8.00 to take Javelin express bullet train back to St Pancreas Station - it only took 5 minutes. With a 20 minute walk back to our apartment from the station - it took roughly the same time to get out and back to the park. Maybe that will change when the crowds get here. 

So - from our apartment - we must allow at least 1/2 hour to get out to the Olympic Park. This is ironic - because they closed our street - Bedford Place - and made it the bus depot for the Media. If you have a press pass - you can hop on the bus right outside our front door - and it takes you right to the Olympic Park press entrance. 

So for 14 days - until August 8th - we will be here - with the whole family - enjoying each other and the Olympic games. We have our FSU apartment - plenty of grocery stores nearby - and transportation wherever we want to go. Traffic is restricted in the city - there are several lanes and streets where cars cannot go - under heavy fine. Some events are held elsewhere - for example - the beach volleyball is being played at St James Place - we can walk there. I won't miss those games.

Each Olympic ticket comes with a transportation pass. It is good for traveling anywhere in the city on the day of that event - that is a pretty good deal. 

Tomorrow Lulu is preparing a brunch at 11 AM. We have invited friends and family to come. After that - we will see if all the planning works - as crowds will flock to the Opening Ceremony which plays from 9 to 12 PM - and then fireworks. We will be there.

This is grandson Jack.

 Keith bought a load of tickets.

Here are our tickets for the Opening Ceremony - Friday night - 9 to 12.

It is kinda hard to keep the page updated while watching the kids.

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